Well this wasn’t the post I had planned on doing today, but when I trotted outside with my camera to capture some artistic chicken shots on this glorious day, I was treated to a real lens full. Compliments of my Swedish Flower Hen rooster (yes – that is an oxymoron, but the capitalized part is the actual breed name) and one of his Swedish Flower Hen… hens, I found myself with the material for an educational course on the birds and the bees… with an emphases on the birds.
You know? This may seem in rather poor taste to post all of this, but if you are reading this blog, chances are you live on a farm or farmette, or at very least you have or want chickens. I think those of us who are farmers or farmers at heart realize that animals aren’t exactly shy about what (or who) they do or where/when they do it.
(Photo source unknown, but clearly brilliant!)
So please consider this a warning. If you are easily offended or embarrassed,
Stop Reading NOW!
If you are still reading, I will assume that you will not be offended or call me out for posting chicken porn on this blog. Further, I will assume you are either curious about how eggs get fertilized, or you simply can't live without knowing how I am going to approach this delicate subject in such a public manner.
As the mother of 3 children, it would be all to easy to start out with, "When a daddy chicken loves a mommy chicken very, very much..."
But you know? We're all grownups here. These are chickens, not humans, so let's keep it real.
It all begins with a hormonally-charged rooster looking for all the world as if he is using Joey's line from the sitcom Friends... "How you doin'?"
Then the Fabio side of Mr. Roo (his name is Gunnar) kicks in for the foreplay. If he could speak, I think it might sound something like: "Hello very fine lady. Do you see the lovely and flamboyant dance that I do just for you. I have lowered my shockingly well-formed wing so as to allow you to see my beautiful feathers. You are impressed, no?"
"Are you not paying attention to my amorous advances, sexy lady? Do you not think me divine?"
"Shall I share my awesomeness with you?"
And here, you can practically hear Astrid's exclamation of "Ooofff" as Gunnar takes a sudden and rather clumsy leap onto her back and balances with one foot on either of her shoulders.
The act that follows takes the balance and skill of Tom Cruise's character in Mission Impossible as he navigates some ridiculously unrealistic obstacle course of deadly laser beams that we all know were electronically added in during editing. (As an aside, I initially spelled "obstacle" wrong and my spell check wanted to change it to "obstetrical." Hmmm... very insightful for my little HAL 9000.)
"Watch as Gunnar delicately navigates this obstetrical course..."
Sometimes Gunnar uses his wings much like a tightrope walker uses a balance pole. Hey - it takes skill to stand on someone's shoulders while having "relations" with them... not that I would know from experience.. but... ahem - moving right along...
The above photo that captured the actual 2 seconds where the "home run" happened.
Excerpt from the post Chickens, Eggs, Fertilization, Reproduction and Other Insider Information:
"When a rooster mates with a hen, he mounts her and, standing on her back, lowers his cloaca (vent) and the hen inverts her own cloaca to meet with his. There is no penetration, but the sperm packet released by the male is taken into the hen's cloaca or vent. From there the sperm makes its way to the infundibulum where it awaits the release of an ovum. Sperm can live in the infundibulum for more than 2 weeks."
Yeah - about 2 seconds is all the splendor in the grass that hen can expect.
Chicken folks will call this part "head-skating", "shoulder-surfing" or just "mating."
(And I call this postition, "The Vulture" he whispered softly into her ear as he fell off her back.)
That's right... shake it off!
A quick, post-coital snuggle...
"Quick! Act like nothing happened! Here comes one of my other wives!"
"I'll call you... "
And then comes the egg - though it can take a few days for eggs to be fertile after the first mating of a hen and roo. Also, eggs can be fertile for up to 3 weeks following the last 2-second romantic encounter between birds.
Even hens without roosters in the yard can go broody, but of course only fertile eggs will hatch.
"Look at me when I'm screaming at you, Mr.! First I push about a dozen objects larger then my own head out of my cloaca, and then I have to SIT here for 21 days! Did you HEAR that? Twenty-one days... while you... what? While you're off doing the wing-dance for that hussy, Ginger!"
And then come chicks!